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Category Archives: Bread

Flowerpot Soda Bread

Irish soda bread – the quick and easy bread you can make and eat in a matter of an hour. Which is exactly what I do on weekend mornings when I want freshly baked bread to go with my morning coffee!

My version has a spoonful of treacle to give it a malty flavour, alhtough it’s still quite a plain bread. You can zhush it up into a sweeter, more fancy bread by adding dried fruit – I like adding cranberries or sour cherries.

And baking soda bread in individual flowerpots is fantastic for making great little individual loaves. I love serving winter warming stews and casseroles with baby flowerpot loaves. Very rustic!

Of course, if you don’t have (clean) flowerpots on hand, you could just as easily make these loaves in muffins molds or even as free form loaves.

Here is the recipe for treacle flowerpot loaves and the fruity flowerpot variation.

Ingredients
340g plain flour
½ tsp salt
½ -1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 tbls black treacle
290mls buttermilk

For fruity flowerpots, add a couple of good handfuls or to taste, of dried fruit. For my bake, I made half  plain loaves, half fruity.

Method
Preheat the oven to 200 degrees C. Lightly spray terracotta flower pots with cooking spray. Put a little flour into each pot, shaking the pot to make sure the flour coats the inside of the pot. Shake out any excess. You don’t need to be too precise – the main thing is to roughly coat the flower pot to allow easy removal of the loaf once baked.

Place flour, salt and bicarbonate of soda into a large mixing bowl and stir. Add the treacle to the buttermilk, stirring it well.

Make a well in the centre of the mixture, and pour in the buttermilk/treacle mixture, mixing quickly to form a soft dough. (Depending upon the absorbency of the flour, you may need to add a little milk if the dough seems too stiff but it should not be too wet or sticky.) Add the dried fruit if using.

Mix well, then turn onto a lightly floured surface and knead very briefly. You can even skip the kneading and pile the mix straight into the pots.

Put handfuls of the dough into the pots, filing to about 3/4 full, to allow for the bread to rise. Place the pots on a baking sheet.

Bake for about 20 minutes or until the loaves are risen and deep brown. Leave to cool for 10 minutes before removing from the flowerpots. The way to do this is to gently run a knife round the edge of the bread in the pot to loosen it, then turn out.

Serve with lashings of butter and nice jam. Here’s the link to my cumquat jam and other preserves, that I love with soda bread.

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Hot Cross Buns: Three Great Recipes!

I’m in the throes of making hot cross buns today, Good Friday, 2017. My buns are at the moment in the fridge having their overnight first prove. If you’ve not done this before, a slow fridge prove creates a flavour superior to a short warm prove.

But more of these buns anon when they’re out of the oven!

Here are my three favourite hot cross buns so far in my Easter baking journey, two Jamie Oliver recipes and a Paul Hollywood recipe. I have shown photos of each, with a link to my recipes in previous posts.

Making your own hot cross buns is fun, seasonal and very very satisfying!

No 1. Jamie Oliver Hot Cross Buns from the Jamie Oliver website
https://thequirkandthecool.com/2016/03/26/hot-cross-buns-jamie-oliver-inspired/

No 2. Jamie Oliver Hot Cross Buns from Jamie Magazine
https://thequirkandthecool.com/2014/04/13/jamie-olivers-hot-cross-buns/

No 3. Paul Hollywood’s book “How to Bake” and it’s on his website too.
https://thequirkandthecool.com/2015/04/03/paul-hollywoods-hot-cross-buns/

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Greenhouse Muffins

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This is Matt Stone‘s recipe for really delicious muffins! The recipe is from his great book “The Natural Cook Maximum Taste Zero Waste”, see here for link. He’s an interesting, sustainable chef, who has been involved in innovative kitchens such as the Greenhouse in Perth, Western Australia.

The recipe is full of grated apples and carrots, with walnuts and cinnamon, with an oaty crumble topping. What I liked too, was that Matt suggests making a big mixture, baking some straight away and keeping the rest of the mixture to bake in a day or two. Genius, if you want freshly baked muffins for breakfast, without having to make the mixture from scratch in the morning. He even suggests that it’s best to make the muffin mix the night before anyway, to let the flour and baking powder work overnight.

Matt’s recipe uses freshly milled flour and freshly rolled oats, as he is an advocate of using ingredients in the freshest possible state. I didn’t have access to these techniques, so I used regular plain flour and rolled oats. But I am seriously thinking about acquiring the equipment to mill and roll at home!

The first batch I made in a regular muffin tin but I made the second batch using a texas muffin tin. From one mixture I got 6 regular muffins and 4 texas sized ones. The recipe below refers to using a regular, 12 hole muffin tin. Obviously you can make different sizes, as I did, if you want.

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Ingredients

100g nuts (I used walnuts)

4 eggs

280g raw sugar

200g carrots, unpeeled and grated

200g apples, unpeeled and grated

150ml vegetable oil

300g plain flour

2 tsp baking powder

2 tsp ground cinnamon

¼ tsp salt

Topping

50g cold butter

70g plain flour

50g rolled oats

50g sunflower seeds

1 tsp vegetable oil

3 tsp honey

Method

Dry-toast the nuts in a heavy-based frying pan over medium–high heat for 3–5 minutes until fragrant and golden, then roughly chop.

Whisk the eggs together in a large mixing bowl and once things start to get foamy, slowly begin to pour in the sugar. Keep whisking until the sugar has dissolved and the mixture has doubled in size. Whisk in the carrot, apple, oil and toasted nuts. Use a spatula to gently fold in the flour, baking powder, cinnamon and salt.

The mixture can be baked straight away but Matt suggests leaving it in the fridge overnight. This will give the flour a chance to hydrate and the baking powder to activate, resulting in a more consistent muffin texture. The mix will keep for 3–4 days in the fridge so it’s not a bad idea to make a double batch and bake every second day so you can have fresh muffins all week with little fuss.

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C. For the topping, place the cold butter and flour in a bowl and rub together with your fingertips. Add the oats, seeds and oil, mix well, then mix in the honey. You want a crumble-type mixture. If it’s too dry, add a splash of water to get it to a lovely, crumbly consistency.

Grease a 12-hole standard muffin tin and line the holes with squares of baking paper. Spoon in the muffin mixture and press it down to the level of the tin.

Cover the top of the muffins with the crumbly topping mixture. Place the tray in the oven and cook for about 25 minutes. Check the muffins at 15 minutes and every 5 minutes from there. The good ol’ skewer test is the perfect way to see if they’re cooked through.

Once cooked, remove the muffins from the oven and leave to cool in the tin for 5–10 minutes. Remove them from the tin, peel off the baking paper and place on a wire rack.

Serve warm, pretty much after baking, with butter!

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Cruffins and Kouign Amann Pastries

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I love croissants and Danish pastries, in fact, any kind of sweet treat that involves lots of lovely layers of flaky pastry!

Cruffins are that curious hybrid, the love child of a croissant and a muffin.  I love them because they have those flaky croissant layers yet are compact enough to hold and eat as they have that neat muffin shape!

Kouign amann (pronounced queen amarn) are Breton pastries that are similar to croissants. They have a layer of sugar in the dough, and are baked in a unique shape with four distinct corners.

While the dough for both these pastries is not identical, they are close enough for me to use one batch of croissant dough to create cruffins and kouign amman. And both pastries can be baked in a muffin tin.

I essentially made a croissant dough and used 1/4 dough for each type of pastry. I layered one dough portion with sugar, and used that for the kouign amann, while the other dough portion I merely had to shape into cruffins before baking. So you end up with 6 cruffins and 6 kouign amann. Just double the quantities for 12 of each.

So here is my simplified recipe for both delights. You can find lots of variations, some quite complicated for both, online, but I wanted recipes that were reasonably simple and not to technically challenging. The kouign amann recipe is adapted from Emma Christensen’s helpful post from her Kitchn blog.

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Cruffins

Ingredients

1/4 batch croissant dough *(recipe follows below)

1/4 cup icing sugar for dusting

Icing/glaze

1/2 cup icing sugar

Juice of 1/4 lemon

1 tbls raspberry fondant creme (optional)

1 tsp freeze dried raspberry powder (optional)

Method

Generously butter a 6 or 12 hole muffin tin.

Roll out your pre-prepared croissant dough to a long rectangle, about 1/2 cm thick. Cut it in half lengthways if it is too big to deal with. Cut strips of dough again lenghthways, about 10cm wide, using a pizza cutter or sharp knife. The strips can be wider, the wider the strip the higher the cruffin. The trick is to have dough, once rolled, big enough to rise high, but not so big that they flow over the muffin tin without support.

Carefully roll up each strip starting from a short end (10cm end), fairly tightly. Place each roll cut side up in a muffin hole. You should get around 6 cruffins.  At this stage you can leave to prove as is, or wait, as  I did, to fill the other muffin holes with kouign amann pastries.

Place a large plastic bag over the tin and leave to prove for about an hour, or until the cruffins have grown in size.

Preheat your oven to 200 degrees C.

Once proved, bake for about 30 minutes until the cruffins are puffed up and a rich golden brown croissanty colour. Remove from the oven and cool for 10 minutes. Remove the cruffins to a wire rack or large plate. Drench with 1/4 cup icing sugar while still warm.

For the icing, mix the icing sugar, lemon juice raspberry fondant creme if using, to make a dribbly sort of icing/glaze. Using a pastry brush, paint the cruffins with the icing/glaze. For added artiness and a lovely intense raspberry taste, scatter a little freeze dried raspberry powder over the cruffins.

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Kouign Amann

Ingredients

1/4 batch croissant dough *(recipe follows below)

1 cup caster sugar + additional for rolling

1/4 cup icing sugar for dusting

Icing/glaze

1/2 cup icing sugar

Juice of 1/4 lemon

Method

Roll out your pre-prepared croissant dough to a long rectangle, about 1/2 cm thick. Sprinkle the rectangle with 1/2 cup sugar and press lightly with the rolling pin to help it stick. now fold the top (narrower end) third down and the bottom third up, like folding a letter.

Rotate the dough 90 degrees so that the open end is facing you, like a book. Roll the dough out to a rectangle about 1/2 cm thick. Sprinkle the rectangle with the remaining 1/4 cup sugar and press lightly with the rolling pin to help it stick. Fold the top third down and the bottom third up. If any sugar falls out, press it back into the folds.

Put the dough into large plastic bag and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

 If you haven’t already done so, generously butter a 6 or 12 hole muffin tin. (If making cruffins at the same time, you will already have buttered your muffin tin.)

Sprinkle the rolling surface with caster sugar.  Transfer rested dough to the rolling surface. Sprinkle a little additional sugar over the top of the dough. Roll the dough out to a rectangle about 1/2 cm thick.

Cut the dough using a pizza cutter or sharp knife into 10cm squares. Fold the corners of each square toward the center. Pick up each pastry and tuck it firmly into the muffin holes. You may have to push it in gently. You should get about 6 pastries.

Place a large plastic bag over the muffin tin and leave to prove for about an hour, or until the kouign amann  are slightly puffed up.

Preheat your oven to 200 degrees C.

Bake for about 30 minutes, rotating the tray halfway through baking. The kouign amann are cooked when they are puffed up and a rich golden brown croissanty colour. Be careful that the tips don’t burn. Remove from the oven and cool for 10 minutes; don’t  let the kouign amann cool completely in the muffin holes or the sugar will harden and make the pastries pretty tough to remove.

Remove the kouign amann to a wire rack or large plate. Drench with 1/4 cup icing sugar while still warm. To  ice the kouign amann, mix the icing sugar and lemon juice to make a dribbly sort of icing/glaze. Using a pastry brush, paint the kouign amann with the icing/glaze.

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Croissant Dough recipe

This recipe is that of the inimitable James Morton, finalist on the Great British Bakeoff 2012. His book Brilliant Bread is full of great recipes that make bread making, and in this case, croissant making, a common sense affair.

So here is James’ recipe (for the dough only).

Ingredients

900g strong white flour

50g caster sugar

2 x 7 g sachets fast-action yeast

14g salt

20g unsalted butter, chilled

500g full-fat milk

200g sourdough starter (My Note – you could leave this out if you haven’t got a starter, but it does improve the flavour)

500g unsalted high quality butter, chilled

Method

In a large bowl, mix the flour, sugar, yeast and salt until combined, rubbing the yeast and salt in at opposite sides of the bowl. Roughly rub in the 20g butter until crumb-like, then add the milk and starter if using and form into a dough.

Knead the dough vigorously for 10-15 minutes until it has become smooth and doesn’t break when stretched. Wrap in cling film (I use a large plastic zip lock bag)  and refrigerate for at least an hour  but preferably overnight.

Once the dough has rested, take the additional butter and place it between 2 sheets of greaseproof paper (I find cling film works well). Using a rolling pin, bash the butter until it flattens into a square, roughly 20cm x 20 cm and 10 cm thick. Return the butter to the fridge and remove the croissant dough.

Roll out the dough on floured surface until it is a rectangle about double the size of the flattened butter (20cm x 40cm). On one half of this, place the flattened butter.Fold the dough over the butter and pinch all around the edges to seal. Turn the dough round a quarter turn.

Gently roll the dough out into a new rectangle about three to four times as long as it is wide. Gently take both ends and fold them over towards each other, so that they meet in the middle (your rectangle should now be half as long as it was). Then, fold the new shape in half again, closing it like a book. Wrap in cling film or place in the plastic bag,  and refrigerate for 20 minutes.

Carefully, repeat the instructions in the last paragraph twice more, so that the dough has been folded and rested three times altogether. Rest for 20 minutes one final time.

The dough can be used immediately or frozen for future use.

The quirkandthecoool (me!) can thoroughly recommend  freezing the dough. The basic recipe makes a HUGE quantity of dough. It make so much sense to divide it into two, or even four, bake with some now, and freeze the rest for using at a later date.

 

        

 

 

 

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Blood Orange Curd and Homemade Croissants

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Two favourite breakfast treats are croissants and a citrus curd. I usually make lemon curd, but with the abundance of blood oranges in Sydney in August, it was a no brainer to turn the juice of the blood oranges into curd!

When I have the time,  I love making croissants. It’s a labour of love but the results are so worth it! The recipe for these home-made croissants is from a previous post “Croissants and Danish Pastries”

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So here is the recipe for the curd. Whether you make your own croissants or buy them, serving them with lashings of blood orange curd is delish!

Blood Orange Curd

Ingredients

125ml blood orange juice, strained

155g caster sugar

100g butter, chopped

4 free-range egg yolks, lightly whisked

Method

Place the orange juice, sugar, butter and egg yolks in a heavy-based saucepan over a low heat. Cook, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, for 10-15 minutes or until the mixture thickens and coats the back of the spoon.

Pour curd into sterilised jars and seal. Set aside to cool. The curd can be stored in the fridge for up to 1 month. I discovered recently that curd freezes well. Put the curd into ziplock bags and freeze. The mixture stays semi-liquid and can be used when it come back to room temperature.

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Gluten Free Banana Bread

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In pursuit of more healthy options in my cooking, I couldn’t go past this recipe for banana bread from the Hemsley sisters. Jasmine and Melissa Hemsley have a great TV program called Hemsley +Hemsley: Healthy and Delicious where they cook food that is natural and nutritious – grain, gluten and refined sugar free. A recent episode featured banana bread made with coconut flour and coconut oil. It does have 3 eggs, but hey – this bread makes 12 slices easy so that’s only 1/4 of an egg per slice!

Here is my version with a few tweaks that I like. You could really add anything you like – nuts or seeds would be great, and honey would be a great sweetener too.  The treacle in my version gave a lovely, malty flavour and rich dark colour. And it’s a throw-in-the-food-processor recipe so it takes no time to mix!

One more thing – it keeps forever! It doesn’t dry out, and keeps really moist.

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Ingredients

350g or 3 medium size bananas, mashed

60g  coconut flour

1 /2 tbs cinnamon

1 pinch salt

3 free-range eggs

50g coconut oil, melted

1 tsp vanilla extract

1.5 tsp bi-carbonate of soda

1 tbs apple cider vineagr

1/2 tbs treacle

1/2 tbs golden syrup

Method

Preheat oven to 180 degrees C.  Line a loaf tin with baking paper.

Put all the ingredients (except the golden syrup) into a food processor and whizz until smooth.  Spoon into the prepared tin. Drizzle over the golden syrup onto the top of the mixture.

Bake for 50 minutes. Cool on a wire rack completely before turning out of the tin.

I served my banana bread with cashew butter and fresh figs. The bread is quite sweet, so the cashew butter works well. Peanut, or any nut butter would be fine.

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Ciabatta James Morton Style

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Ciabatta is that lovely bread distinguished by all those holes! It’s light and flavoursome, keeps well and is also amazing toasted or made into bruschetta. In need of  a reliable recipe, I consulted James Morton in his great book Brilliant Bread for how to make this bread.

I was making ciabatta for the first time this week. I had friends over for dinner to celebrate the arrival of a shearers’ table which has been sojourning in the Southern Highlands for too long. I had hot-smoked a side of salmon and wanted some nice bread to serve it with. I ended up serving it with dill pickles, creme fraiche, focaccia and the ciabatta loaves. Here’s a photo of the hot-smoked salmon. For the recipe on how to hot smoke, check the recipe from my post on hot-smoking.

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Ciabatta can be tricky to make as the dough is very wet and hard to handle, so be prepared for this. James suggests using the paddle attachment of an electric mixer, which makes the kneading easier.

I discovered that James has a simpler recipe online. It looks good, and I am keen try his “pared down” version.  See James’ simple ciabatta here.

But here is the recipe from James’ book Brilliant Bread that I have made successfully.

Ingredients

300g strong white flour
100g plain flour
7g instant yeast
10g salt
200g sourdough starter
350g tepid water
Semolina, for dusting

Method

Into the bowl of your electric mixer (I used my KitchenAid), rub the flours, yeast and salt, keeping the yeast and salt on separate sides of the bowl.  Add the starter and water and form into a extremely wet dough.

I followed James’ instructions for the electric mixer, here, although you could knead by hand for 10-15 minutes. Beat the dough with the paddle attachment of the mixer until it comes away from the sides and easily passes the windowpane test.

Cover your bowl with cling film (I use a shower cap) and leave to prove. This can be 2 hour room temperature prove or leave for 10-12 hours in the fridge. The dough should have at least doubled in size.

Turn the dough out on to a heavily floured surface. Using floured hands, fold the dough in half so both the top and bottom are both floured. Move it around a little to make sure the bottom is totally coated, and add more flour to the top. Flatten very gently into a  rough rectangle, then cut into 4 strips, being very careful not to deflate the dough and lose those bubbles which will be your holes!

Gently transfer each strip onto a heavily floured tea towel. As you move them, stretch them out until they are long and “slipper-like”. The loaves don’t need to be exact they are after all rustic loaves. Leave to prove on the tea towel for about 1 hour, or until wobbly and noticeably increased in size.

About 40 minutes before you bake, preheat your baking surface in the oven set at  240 degrees C or 220 degrees C fan forced.

Turn the ciabattas (be very gentle) on to a board dusted with semolina, so what was the bottom is now the top – this helps to redistribute the bubbles for a better crumb. Slide the loaves on to the hot baking surface and throw 1/4 cup of water on to the sides of the oven.  Bake for 15-20 minutes, until golden brown. (I think I could have baked my loaves a little longer – they were not brown enough).

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